Informal entertaining is my specialty. Often, I’ll invite friends over with a caveat: “But would you mind if we got Thai?”
“Not at all,” they reply kindly. “Don’t go to any trouble. Takeaway is fine.”
Because I am a wonderful hostess, I order the dinner myself and graciously insist on paying when it arrives. To further show I care, I also set the table, light a few candles and may even break out the napkins instead of paper towels.
It’s not just the logistics – a lack of time, energy and fancy pants cooking skills – that stop me. The words “dinner party” send naked fear into my heart.
I’m paralysed by the thought of having to prepare a proper meal, with courses, and lay things artfully on plates and have multiple dishes ready at the same time and serve it all up hot and not give anyone food poisoning. Then there’s the part where your house has to be perfectly tidy, your outfit perfectly appropriate (preferably without food spilt on it) and the chemistry between your guests perfectly scintillating.
The intimidation factor is enormous. I’m in awe of people who can do it; people who have dinner party confidence.
According to The Daily Mail:
New research… found that four in ten of us cheat when preparing for a dinner party because we are too busy to cook everything from scratch.
The most popular ruses included using ready-made pastry and sauces from a jar, but one in ten admitted to fooling their guests by hiring a catering company.
Twelve per cent had hired a takeaway and passed it off as their own, and a tenth had even roped in their mothers to cook a meal, then taken credit for it.
THE TOP TEN DINNER PARTY CHEATS
- Using ready-made pastry – 50%
- Using shop-bought stock – 35%
- Using sauce from a jar or packet – 33%
- Using frozen vegetables – 19%
- Ordering a takeaway – 12%
- Getting your mother to prepare a dinner party for you – 10%
- Hiring a catering company – 10%
- Serving supermarket microwave meals- 9%
- Serving tinned soup – 8%
- Having a friend cook a meal and drop it round – 5%
The study found that people were most likely to cheat with dessert, with tiramisu the most popular ready-made option.
Just over one in ten had confessed to the ruse after being unable to answer awkward questions about the recipe.
But a brazen 20 per cent said they would still deny cheating even if challenged by their guests.
Dear lord. Using ‘shop-bought-stock’ and ‘ready-made-pastry’ counts as cheating? What about eating out of plastic containers or pizza boxes? WHAT DO YOU CALL THAT???
Have you ever passed off bought food as your own at dinner party? Do you have any tips or advice for those of us who are dinner-party-challenged?